Improvising with the major scale is fun!

Just 5 weeks into the course and I am improvising over the major scale. I know, this is not a big deal for the more experienced players here, but for me this is huge! I practiced guitar on and off for some years and I never got to improvising over a scale!

Maybe that means that I am a slow learner or just slightly retarded, but discovering, what scales are actually good for feels like a huge accomplishment for me! And it opens so many possibilities to practice. I can memorize different scales, learn the note names, learn the notes on the fretboard, practice a steady rhythm and just have fun and feeling like making real music while doing it! (nobody would want to buy the record, but who cares…)

@JoshFossgreen I am really impressed, how quickly you manage to improve the skill and knowledge of your students. I never realized how important a good teacher and a solid learning path is. I know this sounds stupidly obvious, but there are so many ways to get lost and waste a lot of time without going anywhere…and I know them all! :crazy_face:

It´s such a relief to finally see that this is actually going somewhere. I am so excited to find out what comes next! Thank you for putting together this course, it´s real fun! :+1:


That’s awesome! I am so happy to see this progression, and I’m sure you are as well. Rock on!


Everything you learn and ‘get’ is a big deal at any level.
I have been playing for almost two years now and finally going through Mark Smith’s Scales Essentials. It is frightening how little I have retained about scales over that time. Things are clicking now though and that is what matters.

Every little step you take builds on the last. Keep it going @Snoopy


Nice work @Snoopy ,
Great to hear your enjoying the endless possibilities, keep on rockin,
Cheers Brian


Sounds like you had the same “Ah hah!” moment that I had :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: Scales are awesome!


Indeed :slight_smile:


“I never realized how important a good teacher and a solid learning path is.”
Can’t agree more. I’m reasonably intelligent, but I find it extremely difficult to learn something on my own. I need a teacher. Take music theory. So far we have only covered the basics, so it’s not rocket science, but when I tried to learn the stuff on my own I got nowhere. Just having someone explain it makes it so much easier.


When you’re improvising you’re learning and actively processing how things fit together musically and also putting your theory and every technique you know to use, having fun while doing so. Well done, @Snoopy. Keep learning :+1:

I find that I’m much better learning on my own, and don’t do so well with a teacher. I really need to find different perspectives, and then synthesise them. This is why if I’m learning about chord theory, for instance, I will buy 2 or 3 different books as well as supplementing that with research on the internet. I find doing my own research makes me rely more on myself and I also end up with a more thorough and complete understanding.


Onya @Snoopy


I’m a bit the same. Personally, I prefer a teacher and some structure for direction, but when I learn with a teacher, I go and read and do my own research to supplement on the lessons, so I understand it better and more thoroughly.


@lissajaine That is a good approach, in my opinion. :+1:

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If you really want to learn theory, it’s much easier if you start with a problem and use theory to solve it. Adults so often insist on trying to learn things before they use them instead of using things to learn them like children do. You can do things like find a song and analyze the chord progression, write chord progressions and then write/improvise basslines over them or answer theory questions that people ask on the forum.


Couldn’t agree more. :+1:

Some of us actually get enjoyment out of doing this and to others we are just plain nuts for doing it. :slightly_smiling_face:

I do not know how many times at a jam session someone has asked me to come up with a song’s lead sheet that they cannot find online, or to transpose a song to a different key, or just correct a lead sheet they have found online that just doesn’t sound right.

The music theory rabbit hole is very very deep and can be a lot of fun but learning some things within it, without a need for application, can lead to frustration for a lot of people.

Try transcribing or composing without more than basic theory and see how far that gets you :slightly_smiling_face: :slightly_smiling_face: :slightly_smiling_face:

On several occasions @howard has made the statement that using a keyboard to understand a lot of areas of music theory is a lot easier than trying to check out something on an instrument with a fretboard. This is so true and I think the main reason is that the keyboard is so much more visual.

Anyways, the bottom line is if you enjoy something go for it. If it frustrates you move on.
It’s all good in the end if you are having fun :+1: :+1: :+1:


If it frustrates and i move on then i’ll never accomplish anything difficult… i think i’m genetically programmed to enjoy suffering anyway :joy:

Eventually i’m going to get through the last bass level on Yousician… :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I don’t really compose music with theory just like i don’t write with grammar… composing is a creative endeavor; I usually just hum or whistle stuff into my phone. I use music theory like i use :slight_smile:

Howard is definitely right about the keyboard (though a DAW works pretty well too). I discovered that about 6 years ago when i decided to get back into music and i bought one. A lot of the stuff i struggled with in school (and really didn’t care about anyway) became much more obvious on piano. I love my EHX Superego+ too for playing scales/arpeggios and improvising.


This is very well put.
It is a huge frustration both myself and my adult students run into when I try and dissuade them from learning theory that doesn’t apply at the time.
Listen more.
Transcribe more.
And then theory is there to communicate and give words to the things you discover.


I pay the bills through computers and supporting them, and in my time at work I have seen a lot of technologies emerge. My philosophy is that new technology may be cool, but do I need it to solve a problem I have? Which is against the current for most folks in my profession. Who see a new tech and want to jump on it. I’m always asking what problems do I have and how does this help with it?

Music is much the same.


I agree. When we find things difficult, they are times when we’re learning and most likely to learn. If we find something easy, it means we’re not learning anything from it and won’t ever learn anything from it. I don’t like the approach of running away from anything that we find difficult.

I say: “if something frustrates you, stick at it until it becomes easy. When it becomes easy, move on”.

+1 for using the keyboard to understand and practice theory.


I will amend my statement to bring up writing, as I am also an author. Music is more like writing. In writing you need to know grammar pretty well. Editors and readers have a small tolerance if you can’t get the basic grammar and spelling right.

But the more advanced grammar, like a gerund (which you will use just fine without know what it is), isn’t needed. Music is much like that. To me, knowing roots, thirds, and octaves is my good base which gets me through a lot. When Bootsy says “play the root on 1” I understand that. That’s the level I need.

Modes? I know they exist but I’m not composing, don’t need it yet.

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I disagree with that, especially when you are learning by yourself, without supervision. When you are not sure what you are doing it is easy to end up trying to learn a song/subject/technique/etc that is way beyond your current level, and spend way too much time on it. Even if you succeed, chances are that your time would have been better spent learning things that were just a tiny bit above your level, and were achievable in a more reasonable timeframe.

For example when I was self-learning piano, I spent around 2-3 months learning the Moonlight Sonata, because that was what I wanted to play. I did it, but it was frustrating at times, and taught me pretty much nothing. I should have spent those months learning a broader range of easier pieces.

This is probably why I keep getting married…hasn’t gotten easier yet.

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Well that’s what I do and I always learn on my own. I prefer it that way. When I have a problem, I keep working at it and consult different sources such as different forums, books, and vids to get different different perspectives.

By working at it, I will pick up lots of other nuggets not directly related to the subject matter along the way that will help me at a later time.

I take note of everything that I’ve learnt so that I can use it at the right time. For example, when learning about modes then I pick up lots of other things about chord theory, ear training and so forth. I find that it’s a the best way to see how the topic interrelates with other aspects.

If I had have asked a teacher, I may have got my answer directly and it would be so much easier to do. But then I would have missed out on all the other things that I could have discovered along the way, as outlined above.

It depends if what you set out to learn is useful or not. And in your case, learning a song wasn’t that useful or transferable, so it’s no surprise you learnt nothing from it. I’m not going to waste my time learning songs unless it’s for a gig.

Often learning all these songs is not transferable to anything else. I would much better spend my time learning something such as walking bass which is a skill/technique that I will be using later on. And even if I don’t, what I will learn will be transferable to lots of other areas of the bass.

It’s better to learn techniques and skills that can generalise to other aspects of the bass than learning specifics such as songs.

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